On Friday, a container ship owned by Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer came under attack in the Indian Ocean by a suspected Iranian drone, according to an American defense official. The attack on the CMA CGM Symi is part of a larger trend of global shipping being targeted in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. The Malta-flagged vessel was allegedly targeted by a bomb-carrying Shahed-136 drone, causing damage to the ship but no injuries to the crew. While the U.S. military has not provided detailed intelligence on Iran's involvement, it is suspected that the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard carried out the assault.
The use of these drones is not limited to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as they have also been used by Russia in its war on Ukraine. Al-Mayadeen, a pan-Arab satellite channel politically aligned with Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah, reported the attack on the Israeli ship in the Indian Ocean. The ship is managed by Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping, which is ultimately controlled by Idan Ofer. The company has acknowledged the incident but declined to provide further details.
This is not the first time that ships associated with Eastern Pacific Shipping have been targeted. In November 2022, the Liberian-flagged oil tanker Pacific Zircon sustained damage in a suspected Iranian attack off Oman. The Symi's crew had been on high alert due to perceived threats, evidenced by their decision to switch off the ship's Automatic Identification System tracker since Tuesday when it left Dubai's Jebel Ali port. The ship had previously done the same when passing through the Red Sea past Yemen, where Iranian-backed Houthi rebels are based.
While Iran's mission to the United Nations did not respond to requests for comment, it is known that Iran and Israel have been engaged in a shadow war in the wider Middle East for several years. Iranian-backed militias in Iraq have also targeted American troops during the ongoing conflict. However, Iran itself has not been directly linked to any attacks. The Eurasia Group, a geopolitical risk firm, suggests that Iran is cautious about escalating the conflict and is likely to avoid actions that may lead to a major response from the U.S.
In a separate development, Bahrain's national carrier, Gulf Air, reported a hack that may have led to the unauthorized access of some information from its email and client database. A group calling itself Al-Toufan claimed responsibility for the hack, stating that it was in response to Bahrain's stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict.
In summary, the attack on the Israeli-owned container ship in the Indian Ocean highlights the increasing targeting of global shipping in the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. While Iran is suspected to be behind the attack, detailed intelligence has not been provided. The incident is part of a larger pattern of drone attacks, with similar drones being used in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. This comes amidst a wider shadow war between Iran and Israel in the Middle East. Bahrain's national carrier, Gulf Air, also reported a hack, allegedly in response to the country's stance on the conflict.